Nucor (NUE -0.89%) has been on a tear since I last wrote about the company in late March when the stock hit a 52-week high. The steel stock has done it again this week, rocketing another 10.7% as of 10:34 a.m. ET on Thursday, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence. It even hit an all-time high of $166.81 a share.
Nucor shares aren't flying because of a fluke, as you might see within a week's time.
Russia continues to invade parts of Ukraine, which is urging more nations to impose sanctions on imports of key commodities from Russia. The sanctions have roiled the global commodity markets, including steel, as both Russia and Ukraine are major exporters of pig iron, a key input in steelmaking.
Prices have shot up as a result; U.S. hot-rolled coil steel had jumped 47% from March 1 to April 12, according to data from media company Argus.
As the largest steel company in the U.S., Nucor is positioned to make a lot of money from rising steel prices. In fact, you'll get a glimpse into how much it's actually making a week from now when the company reports earnings. Expectations are high, which is also what's driving more investor money into the stock this week.
Nucor will report its first-quarter numbers on April 21, and it's already raised the bar high by projecting record earnings. In fact, management expects to report earnings ranging from $7.20 to $7.30 per share, or more than twice what it earned in the same quarter last year.
A quick look at Nucor's historical numbers tells me its first quarter should be its most profitable first quarter in its history. So seeing its shares hit all-time highs alongside profits makes complete sense.
There's one thing to remember, though: Steel prices were even higher this time last year, so there's a fair chance Nucor might not throw around the word "record" in its second-quarter or full-year outlook, as some expect. That, however, shouldn't make any difference to investors in this rock-solid dividend stock over the long term.